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MBABANE – Mzuthini Ntshangase, Commissioner of His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) has told the media to stay away from security matters.

Ntshangase was questioned following claims by human rights activists who criticised the Correctional Services Department for putting Editor of The Nation Magazine Bheki Makhubu and human rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko in keg irons.


The Commissioner of HMCS, when questioned on why convict Celani ‘Maponi’ Ngubane participated in a crime prevention exercise without shackles, told this reporter that this publication should stay away from security matter.
Ngubane is serving a 60-year sentence for armed robberies, housebreaking and theft, and murder.
“Angsibendzeli iTimes mina (I don’t work for the Times). We decide on matters of security. Stay away from security matters, period!” he said before ending the interview.

In his prime, Ngubane would disguise himself as a female by wearing dresses and weaves to evade arrest as police officers combed kaKhoza location and the surrounding forests in search for him and his gang whose crime wave gripped the nation at the time.
Ngubane, who was convicted of murder, armed robberies, housebreaking and theft , has been making public appearances without leg irons in schools in which, alongside other convicts, they told pupils about their life of crime and that it does not pay.

In a community service exercise, Ngubane declared that he was a Christian and informed pupils that he was demon-possessed when he committed the aforementioned crimes.  He visited schools to warn pupils to steer clear of crime, countrywide, as part of a community outreach programme.
Ntshangase, in yesterday’s publication, had said suspects were made to wear leg irons for security reasons.

He had said for security reasons, HMCS could not publicly discuss why some suspects were put in shackles.
On the case of the duo of Makhubu and Maseko, Ntshangase had said HMCS considered each case differently, and used their discretion whether to use handcuffs or leg irons.
“I know you are asking about the recent case. Sometimes it is to allow the people to use their hands to hug their relatives,” he said.
He also said they treated each case differently, and looked at the suspect’s situation.


The duo was in leg irons during their High Court appearances which the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) believed was an action they understood was meant for hardened criminals.
On the other hand, Sipho Gumede of LHR in a previous interview, said they (Lawyers for Human Rights) did not approve of the treatment received by Makhubu and Maseko.
“It is not understandable especially since the institution is now a Correctional facility. There was really no need for them to wear chains and large padlocks. It gives a wrong impression of the country and its Constitution. The fine for their offence is E500, why then have them in shackles for such a crime?” he wondered.

Gumede had also said looking at the character of the suspects, they had no potential to break free and flee.
Civic groups also concurred with Gumede’s statement.
Lomcebo Dlamini of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) said putting the two in leg irons was more degrading than their arrest.

“Maybe it is allowed in the law but generally we did not see the need to have them in leg irons,” she said.
She further said the two were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, and it should not be done unless the suspect was violent and needed restraint.

She said the duo was still innocent until proven guilty, and they should not have been subjected to such treatment.
Vincent Ncongwane of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) had also said the leg irons were excessive.

“The law which allows for this to happen should be visible to everyone. If people are put in leg irons for such a crime, then what happens to a murderer, does it mean they will shackle his arms and legs?” Ncongwane wondered.
Nkosinathi Manzini, Secretary General of the Law Society, said they did not know what criteria was used as this was usually seen on hardened criminals.

He said they did not know the policies and regulations used in this case. “If the policy says every prisoner should be shackled, then we understand. But if they use discretion, it raises a question why these people who are not hardened criminals are given such treatment?” Manzini asked.

Comments (6 posted):

Mxolisi Sinisela on 09/04/2014 05:18:10
Kona nami umgazi angisamuzwa kahle this days.I used to like his leadership style kodwa manje hhayi!
Burns Dlamini Lobhoncela on 09/04/2014 09:43:19
That Correctional Services uses its discretion is not in dispute; but I think what the other people are saying regarding excessive means used on the duo is valid. And Ntshangase just needed to be a gentleman and admit to the overkill on their part. E500 fine and use of leg irons as used on the duo as if they are dangerous criminals and flight risks was way overboard. Again to say he does not work for the Times was a bit rude; and to help him; he actually does work for this nation and by extension the Times or the media on whose behalf these questions were asked.
mandla on 09/04/2014 09:59:10
I don't think it is a responsible and sensible response to say the media must drop the issue the Commissioner was asked. The media presents him an opportunity to clarify things and he must take it that way...if he doesn't then he will suffer from wide misconceptions.

The gentlemen in question are people of high intellect and who have an sound mind and could not have run away. The answers to the question are needed Commissioner.
NOMA on 09/04/2014 10:38:21
thth law should be visible to every1 .our problem is umtsetfo unemehlo in this country.is is very badfor the country s image
Futhi on 09/04/2014 12:06:10
Hawu Mr Ntshangase is now showing his true colours, l respected him and now he acts like he is the King. What you are today can change tomorrow. Don't get too comfortable Mzuthini we are all the same to God who is above your masters
siyabonga hlophe on 09/04/2014 14:43:33
Our authorities like drawing everything out of proportion. Makhubu and Maseko never deserved to be in leg irons. That was meant clearly to scare us. We will never be intimidated. Makhubu and Maseko never did anything wrong. They must continue exercing their right of freedom of speech. We deserve to know what is happening in the country. Makhubu and Maseko are there to analyse everything.

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